Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Big Move and Why I have Insurance

This past weekend Dan and I packed up all of our stuff in a uhaul, loaded Charlie in a trailer and headed down to PA. We actually won't be permanently moving until next weekend but figured we'd use the availability of a few extra hands to move the majority of our stuff now. Plus Charlie had to be out by the first of the month. My friend, C, was gracious enough to drive up to RI with her trailer to get us and provide Charlie with a place to live down in PA. :)

Charlie traveled great! He didn't seem to care while we sat in some heavy traffic (bad accident on the other side of the highway) or when we drove through some intense rain. We stopped at one rest stop for a quick back-of-the-pickup lunch and a tour bus full of Israeli tourists stopped alongside. They were fascinated and were taking all sorts of pictures with Charlie (who was loving all of the attention, of course). I guess we were a sight with our horse in the trailer and two dogs sitting next to us while we ate  lunch on bales of hay in the back of the pickup...

Once we got down to my friend, C's, house and unloaded Charlie he seemed to settle right in. C has the cute Icelandic that I rode earlier this summer, Gi, who didn't seem too phased by the presence of another horse in his barn. 

On Monday I let Charlie and Gi out in the paddock together for the first time. There were no shenanigans or bucking/kicking episodes which kind of surprised me. Charlie ran around for a bit before I let him in with Gi but then once they were together they settled right down to grazing size by side. 

Charlie also found a new kitty friend :)

I figured all was well and so Dan and I headed back up to RI so I could finish out my last week at work. Then this morning I got a call that Charlie had sliced his nose open on something in the paddock and the vet was on the way. Lovely! I felt really bad because (1) this was Charlie's first injury and I wasn't there; (2) he hadn't ever been badly hurt  before; and (3) C hadn't even gotten a chance to get to know Charlie before having to deal with a medical emergency. It wasn't pretty:

Charlie's ok, though, and is all stitched back together. C said he was a very good boy and he ate his antibiotics right up tonight. He'll be on those and some bute for a little while until he feels better. I think I'll pick up some Manuka honey from work to try to help with any scarring....silly pony...wish I could be there. This is why I have insurance! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Between work and packing I've been so busy lately that I haven't had much free time to blog at night....but I have been riding :) This past week the heat wave finally broke so I got several good days with Charlie. We lunged first on Sunday to get the kinks out (there were a few) and then I started out riding in the indoor, less because I was afraid of him acting up and more because the bugs were still awful outside and when they're bad he has no brain and we're both miserable. Kate came the one day and got some really cute pictures, including my favorite:

I wanted to get at least one trail ride in, though, before I left RI and I really wanted to introduce Charlie to water so on Wednesday morning Maddy and I ventured out with Charlie and Brantley. The boys were so good! We had a little bit of trouble going over the first wooden bridge but we both stayed calm and patient, making sure to let the horses know that forward was the only option without causing a major battle or meltdown. In the end we both ended up getting off and walking over the bridge but it was by no means "giving up." We each waited until we got a calm moment facing the bridge and accepted that as success that wasn't worth pushing further. The second bridge came and went with no issues and on the way back they both went over each bridge without batting an eye.

When we got to the boat launch I took the same approach: slow and steady, nothing negative; as long as Charlie wasn't backing away I was happy. I honestly have no idea if he has ever been on a real trail ride before, let alone seen water, so I just calmly asked him to first watch as Brantley stepped in, then asked him to move to the water's edge himself. I had all the time in the world so there was no pressure. Eventually he took one step, then another, until all four feet were (barely) in the water. At that point he surprised us both by dunking his face eye-deep and swishing his head around. lol.

What a beautiful view!

Maddy and B
When we got back I didn't want the ride to end so I cantered around a bit and then decided to try him for the first time over the step-jump into/out of the ring and over one of the log jumps in the mini cross country course. He was fabulous! Here's a short video:

Charlie fashioned his own flyswatter...and yes, he was waving it around.
I love this horse!
Best buds

Sunday, July 21, 2013


When I moved Charlie over to Melody Farm in June I knew it was only a temporary thing; there was another girl who had reserved the stall for August 1 but it would get us by in the meantime and by then Dan and I were hoping that at least one of us would have a new job. Both he and myself have been looking for new employment for awhile - I've had an on-again-off-again potential illustration job in KY that we keep waiting for the go ahead on - and so we figured something was bound to come through for one of us. Once that happened we could move Charlie closer to wherever we ended up, and that would be be the end of it. Plus, at that time August 1 seemed a million years away...

However now that date is looming right around the corner, my potential job is still up in the air, and Dan has had no luck even finding a part time job in this economy (not to mention RI is the worst place to look for a job right now). So although I love the people I work with and really like being around animals all the time, my current job as a Veterinary Client Service Team Lead is just not going to cut it long term. It's not in the field in which I was trained, they are in a lull at the moment where everyone's hours are being cut to accommodate a temporary decrease in the number of full-time doctors, and my salary can't adequately support the both of us and a horse. Without two incomes, or at least one bigger one, we really can't afford to move Charlie to a full board barn nearby either and I can't keep driving an hour to the barn and to work every day. 

We've been thinking for awhile that we'd both be better off moving back "south" to the eastern PA/NJ area in terms of jobs options. That area is a hub of biotech and pharma companies where Dan's biochem degree could really be useful, as could mine in medical illustration. We have a lot of family there too which is nice. In the meantime it also has many more opportunities for part time employment to tide one or both of us over until we find something real. So, all things considered, we've decided to pull the plug and say goodbye to the Ocean State and try our luck someplace new. 

Thank goodness I have some amazing friends to help us out. Next weekend my parents and our friend, Connie, are driving from PA to RI with a truck and trailer to pick up Charlie and bring him down to Connie's house. She has an open stall and has generously offered to keep my crazy horse as long as I need. It's just down the street from my parents, and though Dan and I plan to bunk with my grandmother for a little while, her house is only about 20 minutes away which isn't far at all. 

Dan and I will stay up here for another week or so to finish things out but I've given my two weeks at work so the balls have been set in motion. It's kind of scary taking this leap but we have a huge support network and even though we'll be technically jobless for a little while, it won't be much worse than the breaking even we're doing right now. 

I sure am going to miss Kate and Maddy, though....and, damn it, I just realized I'll have to find another farrier :(

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I've got a winner

Dan has always been very supportive of my horse addiction, even if he doesn't always fully understand the obsession, but today he really proved his worth: without any prompting besides "Hey look! There's a tack store over there," Dan suggested that we stop in to have a look. I've got a winner!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sometimes Charlie is just too cute

Since it's been way too hot to ride, Charlie and I have been splitting our time together between baths and hanging out in the barn doing stretches and making sure our ground skills don't get rusty. The other day, though, I let him munch on a bunch of the grasses and weeds alongside the paddocks which, unlike the rest of the living earth, are loving this hot and humid weather and are shooting up like crazy! True to his nature, Charlie couldn't help but be adorable and share some with his friend, Brantley:


Everyone else was jealous (and of course standing in the sun, don't ask me why)

Nom nom nom...look at all this grass!

Brantley says, "Hey, can I try some?"

"Um, B, I told you one bite!"

<sigh> "That was a big bite"

Saturday, July 13, 2013


It's that time of the month again: I needed to get Charlie's feet done....Desperately....Wednesday marked 6 weeks since his last shoeing and while in the winter Charlie could go 8 or 9, this was really starting to push his limits and his unshod back feet were really starting to flake away. Being in a new barn meant I was looking for a new farrier, though, since I'm no longer in the same area as before. Luckily Kate and Maddy both had highly recommended their own farrier so I decided to give him a try.

What a wonderful guy! Now, I didn't not like my old farrier, who actually really did a nice job with Charlie, but this guy was amazing! I was super impressed by the way he had me trot Charlie out a few times mid-process to make sure he was making the proper adjustments. That's the first time I've had a farrier ask me to do that. To me it really showed that he was customizing the job to Charlie's particular needs. In addition, he took the time to massage and stretch Charlie and show me how to do certain stretches and exercises to loosen the tight areas of his back and hips. I'd been doing some stretches with him before but after seeing how easily the farrier was able to release Charlie's tension with a few simple maneuvers, and how much differently Charlie moved afterward, I will definitely be adding in the exercises he showed me and try to do them much more frequently.

Charlie seemed to really like him too (or at least his buzzed hair) :)

I'm too sexy for my shoes
Kisses for the farrier :)

A Little Irish Spring Goes a Long Way

With all the hot weather Charlie has pretty much been confined to his paddock 24/7, so it's no wonder he got a little bored:

Now this is totally unacceptable, and Charlie is not usually into chewing on things, so I wanted to make sure we nipped it in the bud before I got myself into any trouble with the barn owner.

I had heard of several different remedies for wood chewing, but since I didn't have my Bitter Apple Spray handy I decided to go for the tried and true (according to multiple blog posts) Irish Spring Soap method. I knew Kate had tried it with Lucy (which actually failed miserably), but so many other people had had success - and it was such an inexpensive fix - that I decided it was worth a try.

What's that you got there, mom?
Charlie didn't seem to turned off at first as he immediately leaned in for a nibble....

Nevertheless I coated the board all over, grinding it in as much as I could and hoped for the best.

Three days later the wood seems no worse and there is still bright green Irish Spring residue coating the gatepost and no fresh teeth marks.....I think that's a success!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bath Weather and Whale Watching

The weather lately has been good for baths and not much else: heat indexes in the high 90s with super high humidity as well. I've been struggling to not feel sick in this heat just walking around and cleaning Charlie's stall, let alone think about riding.

Yesterday I gave Charlie a full bath. Although he's been getting groomed and/or hosed off daily, his face was white with salt from the sweat so I figured why not cool us both down with a bath?

I figured it would feel really good but he wasn't too keen on standing still. I think he thought I was bringing him in for dinner...how dare I make him stand still and get sprayed with the hose and not get any grain for it! I'm such a mean mom. Charlie did settle right down as soon as I took out the fly spray, though. He knows what that's for!

Post-bath, all shiny
After his bath I let him run around a little in one of the grass paddocks, which he enjoyed immensely. I chose one of the smallest paddocks so he couldn't get too crazy but I did have to stop him after about five minutes so he wouldn't get me in trouble by tearing up the grass.

I also stopped at Dover yesterday to pick up some more fly spray since all Farnum sprays are BOGO right now. I had been using Bite Free in combination with Bronco since Bite Free was meant to only be applied once a week or so (I am always afraid of chemical burns from overuse) and Bronco is fairly harmless for daily use, but it doesn't work great alone. This time around I decided to try Endure since it was getting really good reviews online. Plus you can't beat that deal! I'm considering trying a dietary fly control supplement if all else fails. Poor boy is so miserable :(

One a different note, today Kate, Kenny, Dan and I went whale watching in Cape Cod. It was fabulous! We had gotten a Groupon deal but even without it would have been well worth the money. We had a great time. Here are a few pictures:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

Not too much to report here, which I guess it a good thing because it means Charlie has been good for me :) I rode on Wednesday and he was fabulous. He stood perfectly for me to get on (thanks Kate!) and was a real gentleman at all his gaits. We even jumped a small crossrail a few times, which he loved. I also tried out the new figure 8 bridle I had gotten for him (super discount deal from horseloverz.com, love that place!) and it seemed to work well. At least he looks spiffy in it, if nothing else.

Today I was hoping to possibly ride but I woke up a little later than I wanted too (work holiday party last night) and, since I had to get back to host our own holiday party this afternoon, I decided I would just lunge Charlie a bit in the side reins....I really would like to make more of a habit of doing that to build up his back. I'm actually itching to try Kate's "Faux-soa" rig: see her blog post here Faux-soa....However, as soon as I stepped out of my car at the barn I started dripping sweat and the poor pony was completely sweated out just being in the field.

Poor sweaty pony

Look at that face, he's too hot for even Lucy's kisses :(
 With the heat index it felt like 90+ degrees and I just couldn't bring myself to make him work; one or both of us was likely to end up collapsing from heat exhaustion. So instead I groomed him and scratched his itchy places, gave him lots of kisses and let him have the day off. Happy 4th of July, Charlie.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Back in RI

Today marked the end of our "staycation" in PA and so it was with dragging feet that we packed up the car and headed back north. There was one big thing to look forward to, though....Charlie!
Happy grazing pony

I would be be lying if I said that there wasn't a part of me that really wanted to get on and ride, especially after hearing about how good Charlie has been for Kate this past week. However, the vet had come out today to give Charlie some vaccines so, considering his bad reaction to the last set, I had decided not to ride and potentially stress his system. Also, to be honest, after hitting some major traffic that caused us to miss the vet appointment in the first place and then spend almost 7 hours already in the car on a trip that (in total) should have only taken us 6-6.5hrs, I really didn't feel like doing much of anything but getting home. Luckily Kate was nice enough to hold Charlie for the vet - she said he was an angel - and I still got to stop in and smooch him before we continued on home. I was going to do his stall but Maddy was one step ahead of me. She's so good :)

On a side note, Charlie has been dealing with some strange hives for the past few days, who knows what from (tree in the paddock? Mosquitoes???) but the vet doesn't seem to think they're anything serious. They're not itchy and they've been responding well to Benadryl so I was glad the vet suggested holding off on any other meds...I'd rather stay away from any steroids anyway if they're not needed.

Charlie seemed very happy to see me and got a nice grooming and lots of treats before I put on his brand new bell boots (the pull on kind...which SUCK to put on, btw, but hopefully will last a bit longer than the velcro kind). He also got to spend some quality time getting to know Emma, or rather, Emma got time to get used to him. Charlie couldn't have cared less.
Emma, always ADHD
Ok that's a good sit but Charlie won't look at the camera
Hi, Emma....
Wowza, you're big!
See, Emma, not so bad
I'm not so sure about this....
This was the best we could get...and now Charlie is bored. Sheesh,

I promised Charlie I would be back soon to ride him. As we drove away he looked up and watched us go...how nice to see him so happy and relaxed :)

Such a handsome boy :)